Effect of apixaban on brain infarction and microbleeds: AVERROES-MRI assessment study.
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BACKGROUND: Clinical and subclinical (covert) stroke is a cause of cognitive loss and functional impairment. In the AVERROES trial, we performed serial brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in a subgroup to explore the effect of apixaban, compared with aspirin, on clinical and covert brain infarction and on microbleeds in patients with atrial fibrillation. METHODS: We performed brain MRI (T1, T2, fluid-attenuated inversion recovery, and T2* gradient echo sequences) in 1,180 at baseline and in 931 participants at follow-up. Mean interval from baseline to follow-up MRI scans was 1.0 year. The primary outcome was a composite of clinical ischemic stroke and covert embolic pattern infarction (defined as infarction >1.5 cm, cortical-based infarction, or new multiterritory infarction). Secondary outcomes included new MRI-detected brain infarcts and microbleeds and change in white matter hyperintensities. RESULTS: Baseline MRI scans revealed brain infarct(s) in 26.2% and microbleed(s) in 10.5%. The rate of the primary outcomes was 2.0% in the apixaban group and 3.3% in the aspirin group (hazard ratio [HR] 0.55; 0.27-1.14) from baseline to follow-up MRI scan (mean duration of follow-up: 1 year). In those who completed baseline and follow-up MRI scans, the rate of new infarction detected on MRI was 2.5% in the apixaban group and 2.2% in the aspirin group (HR 1.09; 0.47-2.52), but new infarcts were smaller in the apixaban group (P = .03). There was no difference in proportion with new microbleeds on follow-up MRI (HR 0.92; 0.53-1.60) between treatment groups. CONCLUSIONS: Apixaban treatment was associated with a nonsignificant trend toward reduction in the composite of clinical ischemic stroke and covert embolic-pattern infarction and did not increase the number of microbleeds in patients with atrial fibrillation compared with aspirin.
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